A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum…

Please play the youtube song while you read this post.  It is the soundtrack to this Roman adventure!!

To quote the musical with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and inspired by the antics of playwright Plautus (251-183 BC), a funny thing did happen to me on the way to the forum.

(Incidentally, I’ve always wanted to use that line, but it had to be authentic.)

Rome Renee with forum behind

I was in Rome, Italy, following a Monastic Writing Workshop in Orvieto — more on that later.  And I was on my way to the Colosseum and the ancient Forum where Julius Caesar walked, ruled, and is buried.

Rome Caesar's tomb Caesar’s Tomb

There was an unusually large number of policeman and military milling about, at least it appeared larger than normal, helicopters circling overhead, and there had been a train strike the previous day.  Traffic was halted along the del fori imperiali and a parade of Italians began, bearing their red, white, and green flags.

Rome flatbed truck


As best I could decipher, it was a labor issue and the Sindaco di Roma – Mayor of Rome — Ignazio Marino, with a Pinocchio nose had become their main focus.  Apparently, he had misrepresented himself to the voters, and now refused to negotiate with the labor unions.  Imagine that!

Rome Sindaco pinocchio

The demonstration was well-ordered, only becoming ‘unruly’ when staging a shot with the photographer who had run into the street and asked for some action.  To make sure he captured them in an angry run, they were happy to back up and do it again.

Small flat-bed trucks hauled additional protesters and the roadside was lined with loud speakers as they shouted, “Basta Marino.”  The occasional blast of an air horn being conducted through the speakers for magnification of sound could be heard, while some kind of machine generated green smoke.

Rome flatbed protest

So where is the funny part?

It was what happened next.  The theme song for this demonstration was one I knew and could sing along with them, which I did.  “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by The Rolling Stones.  And yes, they sang it in English!

For a moment I just sang without thinking about it.  Then it dawned on me.  I was in Italy.  This was an Italian labor march about an Italian work force issue.  And their theme song was in English!

I wanted to call people and let them hear it — experience it — with me.  But it was 11:00 a.m. in Rome so it was 5:00 a.m. at home.  Oh well, I’d just have to laugh to myself and capture as much in my memory as possible while singing along.

Have you ever experienced something in another town or city that you just couldn’t wait to share with others?



  1. It would seem that would be a frightening experience for you, but because the demonstration was peaceful, I guess not. Hilarious about the song, though…I would have been singing along too!

  2. Can’t wait to hear more about your adventure. I was backpacking in Europe many moons ago and was on a ferry (Greece, I think?) and these young girls – maybe 9 or 10 – none of them who seemed to speak English started singing along in perfect English to Madonna’s “Like A Prayer”. It was pretty funny 🙂

  3. I always get nervous when I see crowds demonstrating. I’m glad they were peaceful, Renee. I would have cracked up between the song and the Pinocchio picture.
    While in college I went to Key West with some friends during spring break. A group of guys streaked down Duval Street right in front of us. 🙂

  4. It sounds like you had a great time in Rome. Renee, you got my foot tapping awfully early this morning with this song. Oh my, I loved that song when I was a teenager in the 60’s, lol. It still has that beat that makes you sit straight up and pay attention doesn’t it. 🙂

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